Traipsing Around Town: Creativity and Comfort Combine at Jakeeno's Pizza and Pasta

By Taylor Uggla

I decided to try this restaurant on a whim, but boy, was it a good decision. Jakeeno’s, housed in a small stucco storefront on the corner of 36th and Chicago in South Minneapolis, serves excellent Italian cuisine, and its cozy atmosphere makes you feel like you’re part of a bigger family.Opened in 1975 by Jack Keegan and still going strong, the business is now run by two of his daughters, Patty and Amy, who make the restaurant’s desserts themselves. Rumor even has it that the three Keegan grandsons will continue the family legacy once they grow up. (For a cute picture, check out their website.) This history, along with excellent recipes, adds pizzazz to what would be an otherwise run-of-the-mill pizza place.

Customers are allowed to seat themselves at Jakeeno’s, and once you’re settled in at a sturdy wooden table, you’ll be pleased to notice fresh red flowers in a vase in front of you. The walls are painted red and green, and aside from the big front window looking out onto busy Chicago Avenue, the customers inhabiting the somewhat small space provide good material for people watching. You can also see what’s going on in the kitchen over a railing near the front door, a circumstance that only adds to the comfort and familiarity of the place.

What’s best about Jakeeno’s, however, is their diverse array of pizza toppings. When I went, I enjoyed fresh roma tomatoes and Calamata olives, and you can even try sauerkraut or shrimp. There are also nine choices of specialty pizzas, including Barbecue Chicken and Rosemary Potato. The pasta and salad selections are just as numerous, and vegetarians are definitely welcome. Unlike many Italian restaurants, Jakeeno’s offers an alternative meatless sauce for most of its pasta options, making it easy for every customer to have exactly what they want without having to worry about substitutions.

For salads, you can choose anything from baby greens, asiago cheese, and walnuts topped with homemade balsamic vinaigrette to fresh antipasto or Caesar. You can get a half or full order with any of these, and if that doesn’t sound good the list of appetizers is also promising. You can get a three-piece Italian toast with sauce for only $2.75, and artichoke dip and spicy Italian chicken wings are also available, although for a bit higher price. All are definitely worth tasting.

Another really great element, and one I highly recommend, is the Combination Special, a perfect selection for students on a budget. (Other menu items run from $9-$19.) For $37.99, you can order a large two-topping pizza, the appetizer and dessert of your choice, and an entire bottle of $20 wine. Only a few wine selections are unavailable out of ten, and you can’t be disappointed in the remaining options. My date and I enjoyed a nice Shiraz, and finished up with a thick slice of moist chocolate mocha layer cake afterwards. This special is also great for a quiet night out with friends. Afterwards you can even drive ten minutes or so to the Riverview Theater, a classic discount movie theater with $2 tickets and a retro interior.

So, hop in the car or get on that bus, and help support the Keegan family. It’s not a long trip, and a fun way to spend an evening. You even get mints at the end.

Jakeeno’s Pizza and Pasta
3555 Chicago Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
612-825-6827
www.jakeenos.com